Curtis at San Diego Comic Con International 2016
|Born||Clifford Vivian Devon Curtis
(1968-07-27) 27 July 1968
Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
|Spouse(s)||name unknown (m. 2009)|
Clifford Vivian Devon “Cliff” Curtis (born 27 July 1968) is a New Zealand actor whose film credits include The Dark Horse (2014), Whale Rider (2002), Blow (2001), and Once Were Warriors (1994). He’s also had television series roles on NBC‘s Trauma and Body of Proof, and ABC’s Missing. He currently plays Travis, a lead character on the AMC horror-drama series Fear the Walking Dead, a companion series of The Walking Dead. Ethnically Māori, his many character roles have included a range of ethnicities, such as Latin American and Arab. Curtis is co-owner of the independent New Zealand production company Whenua Films.
Curtis, one of nine children, was born in Rotorua, in the North Island of New Zealand, and is the son of an amateur dancer. Curtis is of Māori descent; his tribal affiliations are Te Arawa and Ngāti Hauiti.
As a boy he studied mau rākau, a traditional Māori form of taiaha fighting, with Māori elder Mita Mohi on Mokoia Island, which nurtured his abilities as a performer in kapa haka. Curtis later performed as a breakdancer and then competitively in rock ‘n’ roll dance competitions. He received his secondary education at Western Heights High School, Rotorua.
New Zealand career
Curtis started acting in amateur productions of musicals Fiddler on the Roof and Man of La Mancha with the Kapiti Players and the Mantis Cooperative Theatre Company, before attending the New Zealand Drama School and Teatro Dimitri Scoula in Switzerland. He worked at a number of New Zealand theatre companies, including Downstage, Mercury Theatre Bats Theatre, and Centre Point. His stage roles include Happy End, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Othello, The Cherry Orchard, Porgy and Bess, Weeds, Macbeth, Serious Money, and The End of the Golden Weather.
His first feature film role was a small part in the Oscar-nominated Jane Campion film The Piano. He went on to win attention in Once Were Warriors, one of the most successful films released on New Zealand soil and the line “Uncle f**ken Bully” whom Cliff Curtis played and spoken by “Jake the Muss” Temuera Morrison, became one of New Zealand films most memorable and quoted lines, as well as being part of the “Kiwiana” zeitgeist. He also played a seducer in the melodrama Desperate Remedies. In 2000 Curtis starred as family man Billy Williams in Jubilee, before playing father to the title character in the international hit Whale Rider.
In 2004 with producer Ainsley Gardiner, Curtis formed independent film production company Whenua Films. The goals of the company are to support the growth of the New Zealand indigenous filmmaking scene, and support local short filmmakers. He and Gardiner were appointed to manage the development and production of films for the Short Films Fund for 2005-06 by the New Zealand Film Commission. They have produced several shorts under the new company banner, notably Two Cars, One Night, which received an Academy Award nomination in 2005, and Hawaiki by director Mike Jonathan in 2006. Both short films circulated through many of the prestigious international film festivals like the Berlinale.
At the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, Miramax Films bought US distribution rights to their first feature film, a relationship comedy titled Eagle vs Shark, directed by Taika Waititi. Waititi’s follow-up feature Boy, also from Whenua Films, went on to become the highest grossing New Zealand film released on its own soil.
In 2014, Curtis played the lead role in The Dark Horse, which the National Radio review called “one of the greatest New Zealand films ever made.” The New Zealand Herald praised him for his “towering performance” as real-life Gisborne speed chess player and coach Genesis Potini, who died in 2011. Curtis studied chess and deliberately put on weight for the role.
Curtis has appeared in films such as Martin Scorsese‘s Bringing Out the Dead (1999), Three Kings (1999), the drug drama Blow (2001) with Johnny Depp, Training Day (2001), Collateral Damage (2002), Live Free or Die Hard (2007), Sunshine (2007), Push (2009), and Colombiana (2011). In M. Night Shyamalan‘s The Last Airbender (2010), he played the main villain, Fire Lord Ozai. Curtis portrayed Lt. Cortez in the film Last Knights (2015) and Jesus Christ in the film Risen (2016).
In the NBC TV drama Trauma, he played daredevil flight medic Reuben “Rabbit” Palchuck. On December 4, 2014, it was officially announced that Curtis had been cast as Travis Manawa, a leading male role of the AMC TV series Fear the Walking Dead, the official spin-off of The Walking Dead.
|1994||Kahu & Maia|
|1994||Once Were Warriors||Bully|
|1994||Rapa Nui||Short Ears|
|1998||Six Days, Seven Nights||Kip|
|1999||Three Kings||Amir Abdulah|
|1999||Bringing Out the Dead||Cy Coates|
|1999||The Insider||Sheikh Fadlallah (as Clifford Curtis)|
|2001||The Majestic||The Evil But Handsome Prince Khalid|
|2002||Collateral Damage||Claudio El Lobo Perrini|
|2003||Runaway Jury||Frank Herrera|
|2004||Heinous Crime||Pizza delivery man|
|2006||The Fountain||Captain Ariel|
|2007||Live Free or Die Hard||FBI Deputy Director Miguel Bowman|
|2009||Crossing Over||Hamid Baraheri|
|2010||The Last Airbender||Fire Lord Ozai|
|2012||A Thousand Words||Dr. Sinja|
|2014||The Dark Horse||Genesis Potini|
|2015||Last Knights||Lt. Cortez|
|2016||Risen||Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth|
|2018||Meg||James “Mac” Mackreides|
|1991||Under Cover||Zip||TV Film|
|1994||Hercules in the Underworld||Nessus||TV Film|
|1995||Mysterious Island||Peter||Episodes: “Make Yourselves a Home”
“First Impressions Are Skin Deep”
|1996||City Life||Daniel Freeman||4 episodes|
|1998||The Chosen||Father Tahere||TV Film|
|2002||Point of Origin||Mike Camello||TV Film|
|2004||Traffic||Adam Kadyrov||TV Mini-Series|
|2009–2010||Trauma||Reuben ‘Rabbit’ Palchuk||20 episodes|
|2011||Body of Proof||FBI Agent Derek Ames||Episodes: “Missing” and “Hard Knocks”|
|2012||Missing||Agent Dax Miller||10 episodes|
|2014||Gang Related||Javier Acosta||13 episodes|
|2015–2017||Fear the Walking Dead||Travis Manawa||Seasons 1–3 (Main cast; 20 episodes)|